Back in January, I shared paper stars with words on them with everyone in worship. They were asked to make these words their prayer words for 2014. Here is a lovely reflection written by a member of the congregation I serve (you can find the first Star Story here):
My star word is “Listen”. My first thought when I got the word was “listen for the still, small voice of God.” Sometimes you have to listen hard to hear the whisper of God, sometimes it’s pretty obvious and sometimes it becomes obvious later.
For my volunteer job at a local hospital I have to undergo a yearly compliancy “test”. Basically, my supervisor shadows me while I give patients Reiki treatments, just to make sure I’m following hospital protocol. My compliancy test was last week. There are basic questions we need to ask patients before and after treatments – the level of pain, if they have any anxiety or if they are feeling nauseous. I asked the patient what his level of pain was, got my answer, then moved on to the anxiety question. He had a lot to say and ended up talking about his life, his interests and hobbies, the cancer he was fighting, his wife and his job. Information that I didn’t ask him about but found some of it useful when I was treating him and all of it was interesting. I spent a lot of time with him and he told me afterwards he appreciated talking to me.
During my critique my supervisor commented on how well I listened and I didn’t rush the patient’s treatment. I told her I felt it was part of the treatment. When I’m with a patient I don’t think about what other patients I’ll be seeing. The patient I’m with is the most important one at that moment, and by letting the patient talk you can find out more information which can help in the treatment. It also helps the patient to just have someone listen to them and not be poked and prodded and looked at like a specimen of some sort; to have someone just hold their hand, or put a hand on their shoulder.
There was another patient I had a couple months ago. When I went into his room he was sitting in the chair looking out the window. I offered him the Reiki treatment, which he took and he was quiet during the whole treatment. Afterwards he made a comment that stopped me in my tracks. He said that I came in just after his doctor had left him with some news. His doctor told him he only had a couple months left to live, that the treatments for his cancer wouldn’t make any difference. This man was in his early 90’s, although to look at him you would never know it – he looked like he was in his late 70’s. He looked at me and said softly “I was sitting here thinking about what the doctor said, and I’m ready.” I sat down, took his hands in mine and just listened to what he had to say. He asked me if I went to church, if I believed and we talked about God, going to church (he was Lutheran too!), angels and seeing loved ones that have passed on. What struck me about him was how peaceful he was. He truly was ready. I have no idea what happened to him since, if or when he passed. I think about him often, how peaceful and almost joyful he was. I never would have had that experience if I didn’t take the time to just sit and listen.
Sometimes it’s hard to be patient enough to listen. It’s something that I do struggle with, to really and truly listen and not be thinking of how I’m going to respond. It’s having faith that God will give me the right words to say when I need to say them.